Max made a small fortune last night—about 70 cents. He had been enjoying some perfectly legal betting, and threw his hands up in the air in victory. I was glad he won, but I was even more glad that he wanted to win.
Come Chanukah time, Sabrina is a master of playing dreidel. The rules vary but at our house, each participant starts with the same amount of pennies and, at every turn, puts one into a central pot. Then you spin the dreidel, a four-sided top. Depending on which Hebrew letter it lands on, you either contribute a penny to the pot, take half of the pot, do nothing or take the whole pot.
Like most kids, Sabrina plays to win. Max has never shown much interest in the game, until last night. Dave helped him spin the dreidel. Max said "Awwww" when he had to give money and "YEAH!" when he snagged cash. That in itself was a major win. Max hasn't cared about playing games over the years, and not being able to have family game night—something I'd looked forward to when I had kids—was just one of those dreams I had to give up. Last night was our first one. But more key, Max had the focus and competitive spirit.
I've seen flashes of it, like when Max decided he needed to walk in the door first when we arrived somewhere. Once, when we were at the physiatrist's office, the doctor made Max and me repeatedly race down a hallway so he could check out Max's gait and he cracked when—every single time—Max started inching ahead of me before he'd said "Go!"
In many ways, Max's cognitive development is a mystery. Times like this are so heartening to Dave and me; wanting to win shows drive and confidence, along with the awareness that winning is awesome.
I think this was a good reminder for Sabrina, too—Max is a force to be reckoned with! She said "Argh!" when Max won, but with a smile on her face. I think she's mature enough to realize this was a big deal for Max.
It wasn't just a game of dreidel, it was a life score.
Meanwhile, Max is saving up to buy a fire truck. As in, a real one.